1. Avoid furniture from the baby stores. A dresser is a dress no matter what it's called. Just because it's labeled "nursery" or "baby", doesn't mean it's any different. This is similar to wedding planning when the second you hear wedding/bridal, expect the cost to double or triple. Even the simple dressers at BRU start around $300, so go up $900! $900 for a frickin dresser in a baby's room?! The majority seem to be in the $500 range. Instead we used Ikea for our dressers. We have 2-4 drawer Malms side by side and 2-3 drawer Malms (1 in the closet and 1 near the crib). Even better, these were items we already had so extra savings. We use 1 for toys and shoes, 1 for blankets and bibs, etc, and the larger ones for clothing/accessories/bath stuff. You can get all 4 for $360. WAY cheaper and WAY more storage. You don't need that much space, but since we had them, I separated things more.
To see ours in action check out the nursery tour.
3. Get crafty. This goes along with re-purposing somewhat. If you can't find the perfect item to match or the item you want is too expensive, find a way to DIY it. Our nursery theme was robots which weren't always easy to find and when we did, it was usually so pricey. So, for things like the lamps, I found simple square ones and covered them in fabric. Rather than spending $80-$100 on the mobile I loved, my mom made one by swapping out the objects on a clearance mobile with robots. The bookshelves we liked that held a ton of books were super pricey so my husband got to work and made some himself that were better than any we could have bought.
#4 Buy in bulk. This also makes you less likely to run out of things when you need them. Buy the biggest box of diapers. Go to Costco/Sams for wipes. We've only had to buy wipes once after we used the ones we got as gifts and it was a huge box from Sams. We're almost out now at 7 months. We got blessed with tons of diapers so we've never had a problem with running out (still have 10 boxes left! WOW!).
#5 Stock up during sales and use coupons. The baby wash we use is kinda pricey (Mustela). So, last time BRU had a huge sale on it (it was like buy 2 get 1 free + 20% off I think?) so I bought all the things we use the most. Retailmenot.com is a great place to check for coupons and I always check before buying online. Ebates is also a great way to get money cash back. (If you aren't on ebates yet, please use my referral link to sign up. It's great!). BRU and BuyBuyBaby often have coupons and most will take their competitor's coupon. We also used a great sale to try out a few different pacifier and sippy cup options to see what he liked best. Always compare prices with other stores and ask if places price match. If I don't happen to have a coupon with me, I always ask at the register if they have any going on. This works about 1/2 the time.
#6 Register for everything you might want. Even things you think no one will buy because they are too expensive or too small. The main reason for this is that many places send a coupon right before the baby is due for you to complete the registry. So you'll get about 10% off anything that's left on your registry. This is why I did a few different registries.
#7 Buy used! This is where I really saved the most money. So many baby items are in great condition when they are used because they outgrow things so quickly. We bought new on the crib and carseat for safety reasons, but so many other things were bought used. BOB jogger that had maybe been used twice, a high chair that had been used once, changing table, swing, exersaucer, jumper, bassinet, pack and play, walker, toys, clothing, etc. We have so many toys because of buying used that he'll never get bored. I like to swap out the toys he plays with every few weeks. It also is a cheap way to find out what he likes since every baby is different. I know a lot of people don't like buying used, but really it's as good as new once you take a little time and clean it.
This whole pile of toys cost $20! Some of his faves are in here!
Tons of CUTE clothes and a bunch of toys for $45.
Some things to think about when buying used:
-pay attention to sizing on clothing. Some used clothes end up not being the right size if they were washed wrong and shrunk. Also think about seasons when buying in advance. I like to be prepared and buy when I see a great deal so I have to think about what size he'll be in when wearing them. I don't need size 12 months yet, but when I saw a great deal for winter clothes in that size, I snapped it up. Better than waiting til the last minute and buying something expensive.
-Don't buy any stuffed animals that have built in music devices. There's no good way to really clean them. A lot of toys luckily have removable sound things so you can wash them.
-Check for battery operated parts before hosing things down or putting them in the wash. This sounds obvious, but some are hidden pretty well. We've ruined a few things by being too quick to pull out the hose. Luckily some that made it through the wash came out still working.
-If you can, make sure they work. Ask the person if they have batteries to check or bring some with you when you pick up.
-Buy in lots and ask for a deal for buying multiple items. People are likely to go lower to get rid of a lot at once.
-Make sure all parts are in place and nothing is cracked or broken. A small crack could make something less stable or could scratch your little one. Skip the things that have damage.
-For cleaning: Things with batteries, I use clorox wipes to clean them off. It makes it easy to get it all the nooks w/o ruining the battery compartment. I usually wipe it down with a damp rag after so it's safer for baby. For cloth toys and stuffed animals, I throw them in the washing machine. My washer has a no spin and low spin option so I use whichever is best for what I'm washing. For most plastic toys that don't use batteries, I put them in the dishwasher. For big items like the jumper and exersaucer type, we take off the parts with batteries and hose the rest down using a sponge and soap to scrub them down. Some toys look pretty dirty and I've considered skipping them, but it ends up being a lot quicker than I think it will and they come out looking as good as new. I usually just work on them while watching TV so it doesn't feel like work.